April 19, 2004

The Revolution will be blah, blah, blogged

So, Erin O'Connor links to a post by John at Crooked Timber that is, to distill it down to an extremely bare bones level, about the immediacy of blogs and how they may be the perfect tool for injecting a bit o' life into the moribund corpse that is lit. studies. Okay, so maybe moribund corpse is a bit over the top, but it rolls trippingly off the keyboard, so there you go.

Read both posts, plus comments, plus links for the big picture if you're so inclined (and if you have some time on your hands). I came away from the discussion with the definite feeling that the most enthusiasm for lit-blogging comes from those currently outside the system: academics who left or who are a bit disillusioned, aspiring academics (who'd like to go back but cannot at present do so), and the generally intellectually curious.

Since I fall into the first category, I think it would be a great idea: a way to flex mental muscles I haven't used in a while, an opportunity to revisit literature that I missed or deliberately avoided like the plague when I was a time-pressed grad student with an agenda and a need to find a "specialty," and hopefully an environment devoid of the underlying political position jockeying that is everpresent, no matter what level of the ol' ivory tower you're on. In short, it would be a lot like my fondly remembered grad student lounge, where, among the clouds of cigarette smoke and gallons of coffee, we managed to occasionally have some very bright ideas, indeed. And no one in the lounge freaked out or looked at you askance if you whipped out some Terry Pratchett after you finished your Dreiser or Chaucer.

Would such a thing be useful to academics currently "inside" the system? I would think so, for all the reasons enumerated by Erin and John, and for the possible additional benefit of making it easy for insiders to get outside their narrowly defined specialties. Let's face it: to keep up with your area of the discipline nowadays, the required reading can be quite overwhelming. Enter the blog, the quick click, the sound bite--it doesn't have to be a dissertation to be provacative, and what's wrong with provacative sound bites if they stimulate your curiosity? Heck, maybe you could get a publishable article out of it. Heh. Yeah, that does sort of defeat the purpose of using blogs to thin the reams of printed crapulence that occur, but I'm a realist.

As to whether the lit studies blog would replace or cull the sheer volumes of stuff that get published nowadays: doubtful, and not necessary. There will always be grad students looking for cites to give their ideas about colonialism in Puritan literature relevance, and the tenure system's insistence on quantity (often at the expense of quality) will guarantee the supply.

But it could be an interesting experiment, and fun. Remember fun? That thing you used to have when you discussed great books with your buddies? The reason you wanted to be a professor, to share these ideas with others? No, I don't remember it either. But I could...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at April 19, 2004 02:03 PM

RE: Publish or Perish!

I grabbed this off of Slash-Dot today:

Where to Publish Your Paper

  1. If you understand it and can prove it, then send it to a journal of mathematics.

  2. If you understand it, but can't prove it, then send it to a physics journal.

  3. If you can't understand it, but can prove it, then send it to an economics journal.

  4. If you can neither understand it nor prove it, then send it to a psychology journal.

  5. If it attempts to make something important out of something trivial, then send it to a journal of education.

  6. If it attempts to make something trivial out of some-thing important, send it to a journal of metaphysics.

Posted by: Walter at April 20, 2004 02:36 PM